[May 15th, Stellar year: 2148]

Lena followed the same route she took a thousand times already, down the long winding streets until she settled at the intersection she crossed many times over. But she couldn't shake off the feeling that something was wrong, oh so very wrong. That something was going to change the world either for the better, or for the worse.

She glanced around, eyes darting between each Alba's face. Their carefree expressions didn't help the growing dread within her. She took a deep breath, eyes closed before opening them, her face changing to that befitting her rank of Major. She analysed her surroundings; nothing looked out of the ordinary, no new changes to the propaganda spouted from the news network, the same tram cars followed their routes to a precise T. Yet she couldn't pinpoint what exactly felt wrong.

She inhaled deeply, shrugging it off as probably another case of her nerves getting to her after being reassigned to Spearhead Squadron. She gave one cursory glance around her surroundings before crossing the street.

The Palace Blancneige never failed to impress Lena. The pure-white marble that served as the foundation of the building gave it an air of elegance, more so than other buildings she knows. She stood at the steps of the military headquarters, taking one final breath before ascending. Her boots clicked loudly against the marbled steps as she passed one of the archways that served as the entrance to the entire building.

Then that feeling from earlier struck her again; her footsteps halted, eyes growing wide. She felt something watching her from behind, and she slowly craned her head to gaze outside the entrance of HQ.

Her eyes darted between the picturesque environment, from the green trees in the distance to the stone-paved paths that stood as the courtyard of the Palace Blancneige. Nothing did feel out of place. She was about to shake off the feeling once again, taking one glance behind her and twisting her body to head back inside if it wasn't for the faint shimmer she spotted just a few metres in front of the Palace.

She frowned; eyes squinted. She almost thought nothing of it until it appeared a second time, then a third, then a fourth. It started to grow in intensity, the faint shimmer looking more akin to stained glass as it began to ripple. She heard several shouts from her fellow Alba, but she paid it no mind. The feeling she had grown in intensity the more ripples that spread across its surface.

Then, a sound like shattered glass echoed across the courtyard. The shimmer had quickly manifested into what she could determine as a Gate. She took a few glances beside her, her fellow Alba either in shock, fear, surprise. Or a mixture of all three.

"Is this some kind of joke?"

"Is someone filming a movie?"

Those were the comments most prevalent as she listened. Among the snow haired crowd that had gathered, she could spot Annette. Clutching her bag tightly as she watched the spectacle. With nothing better to do than gawk at the newly appeared structure, she pushed her way through the crowd, slowly making her way to Annette until she stopped right beside her.

"Morning, Annette."

Annette nearly jumped in shock, before realising it was Lena. "Ah, yeah. Morning."

"You know what that is?" Lena glanced towards the Gate; she could pinpoint the craftsmanship that decorated its marble pillars. Something that would be produced in San Magnolia by a daring sculpture. The other more definitive detail was the opening into it. The archway was broad enough that it could easily fit two to three Juggernauts. But the pure darkness within made it hard to discern how far it ran.

"No, how would I know? I just watched it appear out of thin air." Several other San Magnolian officers were beginning to leave, seeing as nothing was happening.

"I... well, that's true." Lena scratched her cheek, having realised how dumb that line of questioning was.

"Nothing is going to happen. We should probably head back inside."

The pair began to head back if it wasn't for the shout of another Alba. The pair quickly turned their heads back to the Gate. A tiny speck of white in the middle of the dark entrance of the Gate grew ever larger. A monstrous roar echoed throughout the courtyard, a tan shape barrelling through.

[Year: 2030]

[December 25th.]

[11 months and 24 days since the end of World War 3]

Staff Sergeant Edward Welkin shuffled the cards in his hands before landing a pair of two cards in front of four other members with a practised throw. Chewing the tobacco in his mouth, he glanced at his cards, a one and three.

"Fuck, I'll fold." Edward threw his cards into a corner.

"Man, you always fucking fold. Must be your shit luck?" Johnson grinned, leaning back in his seat.

"And whose shit luck got us out of that stick in North Korea?" Edward glanced over, letting out a puff of smoke.

"He does have a point, Johnson."

"Shut it, Owen."

Edward leaned his head back, staring into the decorated ceiling. "Time passed, huh? How long has it been since the peace declaration?" And with that, the table took a more solemn note. Gripping the neck of the beer bottle, he raised it just a few metres from the front of his face.

"To the men that fell and gave us our tomorrow, to the men whose graves have poppies blown row by row. To us who still hold the torch high for the next generation, and for letting us see another Christmas." Edward solemnly dipped his head, so did the other Marines who quieted down and raised their drinks high. "Amen." He took a long swig of the beer before frowning.

"Who the hell bought this? This tastes like shit!" and just like that, whatever atmosphere the room had dissipated. One Marine walked in with a radio, playing a song that caused a round of groans from everyone in the room.

"Turn that shit off! They made a mistake of giving us cushions!" A Marine shouted from across the room, lobbing a cushion that hit the guy with the radio squarely in the head.

"Hey, Ramirez! Where the hell have you been?" A Marine shouted, having spotted their squadmate walk through the door with two cartons of beer in their hands.

"Out for a beer run since I knew one of you chuckle fucks would buy the shit kind." A resounding cheer by everyone in the room nearly deafened Edward.

Johnson let out a loud laugh. "Now the party is getting started! Let's drink till we can't wake up tomorrow, Marines!"

A resounding Ooorah echoed throughout the base. Edward just shook his head, a smile on his lips. "I'm not taking the blame if our commander walks in to see passed out Marines."

"It's Christmas! I doubt Recker would mind us if we got a bit drunk! Not like anyone else left to see family."

Edward let out an exasperated sigh, "you make a good point, but seriously, I'm not taking the blame for this."

"Fair enough." Johnson shrugged, tipping his head back for another swing. Edward glanced to Owen, a Specialist that came to them in 2022 and some of the best damn driving he had ever seen. And what he could already notice was him downing his third bottle of beer.

"Jesus, Owen. Calm down on the drinks. I don't need you shitfaced." Owen raised a finger, his head leaning back as he gulped the last drops before slamming the bottle down onto the table.

"Shit, that's some of the good stuff! And sorry, Sarge, but you know it takes a lot more to knock me out." Edward grinned, slapping Owen on the shoulder. "Damn straight, you're right. Especially that time at FOB Harley near Beijing."

"Yeah, drank a couple of our guys down under." Owen grinned, reaching over for his fourth bottle of beer till a shout erupted from the lounge.

"Hey guys, you better see this!"

With one glance between each other, they got off their seats. Hurriedly making their way towards the couches as they glanced up to the TV mounted on the wall. Already, they could notice a gate-like structure in the middle of Times Square being shown.

"No fucking way, what the hell?"

"I thought we were finished since the Ginza Incident back in 2016!"

"Breaking News, The Gate that had appeared in the center of Ginza in 2016, has now appeared in Times Square, New York. Currently, we have no knowledge as to why and First-time responders have already evacuated civilians away from the area and cordoned it off to prevent any civilian casualties that might occur. Already, we have reports of military assets being deployed with the police making way for them to go through. Now we'll switch to Richard who's already on the sce-"

"Commander on deck!" Immediately all the Marines present in the room saluted, their boots clicking together loudly as they turned to face their Company Commander. Company Commander Recker Cole is a man with a lithe build, a decorated Marine from World War Three and an expression that screamed bloody murder.

"Alright, Marines! Gather around me and take a knee!" Several of the Marines kneeled down, looking up towards their company commander. "As you've heard from the news, The Gate appeared in Times Square, and right now. We are to immediately deploy to combat whatever the hell goes through that damn thing. We are the QRF. Now get moving, Marines! Lives are at stake." A loud resounding Oorah echoed through the room, each Marine a veteran of World War Three and knew exactly what to do.

All of them rushed out of the room, making their way into the lockers and strapping on gear, then they were off to the tanks. Beasts made from iron and battle-tested, the M1A3E2 Abrams was a direct upgrade of the M1A3 Abrams. Their armor and gun proved inadequate against the more modern MBTs of the era. The M1A3E2 housed a 130mm smoothbore gun meant to penetrate the newer armor of the MBTs, A thin layer of twenty millimeters of depleted uranium was added to its side armour to rectify the Abram's vulnerability there. The tank was also slightly larger to accommodate a fifth crew member to operate the TOW-2 strapped to the top of the tank with an autoloader to provide a maximum rate of fire at any given target. And currently, these battle-hardened beasts of the United States Marines were to be tested again.

Edward shut the hatch to the commander's seat, shaking off the excess rain from his combat fatigues. "Christ, why'd it have to start to rain now of all times." A loud crack of thunder emphasized his point.

"Actually, why the fuck is it raining? It's the middle of winter! Should be snowing!" Johnson shrugged, shutting the Gunner's hatch as he clambered inside.

"Storm came in from the Atlantic, a freak storm. Won't do much in terms of property damage, though," Owen piped up, settling himself in the Driver Seat in the Abrams.

"Well, I hope it doesn't stop the air force from providing us CAS!" A feminine voice shouted over the howling wind, the hatch shutting closed for the rocket Gunner. Edward twisted his head around to face Sergeant Rose Morgan. "Where the hell have you been?"

"Sorry, Staff Sergeant, I was getting ready to leave base for a few days to visit family till I got the call." Rose grabbed her headset, placing it on her head as she flipped the mic in front of her.

"Benitez, you there?"

A thumbs-up was given in return beside Johnson. "Accounted for."

"Sir, do you know why we're being deployed this fast?" Rose asked; despite what her rank suggested, she was still green, having recently graduated from Parris Island a few months earlier, she quickly rose through the ranks with acts of valour and bravery, unlike Benitez who served with Misfit One-Three since the start of the war and was more experienced due to it. Though strangely haven't been promoted from the rank of Private First Class.

"Well, the sit-rep is. The Gate from 2016 just suddenly appeared in Times Square; we're currently one of the many QRFs moving in to reinforce the police there. And Owen, start the tank."

"Got it!" The entire crew felt the engine cough into life before it started rumbling softly. She was raring to go and kick whatever ass goes through that Gate.

"God, that never gets old."

"... this is Misfit Actual to all units, do you read? Over."

Edwards picked up the headset, placing it over his head as he flipped down the mic. "This is Misfit One-Three; we read you loud and clear." Similar calls were made up and down the net with the other remaining tanks.

"Alright, you've already briefed your crews about the developing situation. But I'll say it again, we are to move to Times Square and reinforce the police. By now, the National Guard would have moved in and further secured the sector. Let's get going. Misfit Actual, out."

The Abrams rolled forwards, away from the motor pool and into the street. Quickly speeding away as the rest of Misfit company formed up behind the lead tank. Rain splattered against the tanned hull of the Abrams; the crew silent as they prepared for the fight ahead.

In just under an hour, the Abrams rolled into Times Square, the brilliant lights shining onto the wet streets as Edward popped open the hatch, glancing around at the ordered chaos around him, the rain having slowed into a trickle. However, what got him confused was that the IFVs standing by were currently being loaded up with infantry. At the same time, trucks were also being loaded up with equipment and supplies.

His confusion was further enhanced when he spotted their Lieutenant Commander approach Recker, who opened his hatch and twisted around to converse. Frowning, he took one last glance around, breathed in the fresh air before clambering back inside. Not even a second later, after he sealed the hatch, the radio buzzed to life.

"This is Misfit Actual; we have a change of plans. As of before, we got here, there hasn't been one single attack through that Gate. And from what I was told, they've intercepted radio communications on the other side of the Gate. We don't know if it's the Japanese on Alnus Hill or something else. Right now, all they have is just garble. Hoping to prevent another Battle of Ginza, we are being sent through as a pre-emptive strike. The infantry would be rolling behind us as we make our entrance. Get ready Marines, we're the first one in!"

"And the last one out!" was the response through the net.

"We are Oscar Mike! Misfit One-Three, One-Four. since you're the ones parked in front of the Gate. You get to go first." Edward keyed his mic. "Affirmative, Misfit Actual. We are moving forwards, now."

The Abrams lurched forwards, the tracks spinning as the tank quickly picked up speed and easily reached over 60kph. Owen switched on the headlamps of the Abrams, making it easier to drive through the darkness.

All was quiet outside of the nervous beating of hearts. Even if he was a world war veteran, being sent into the unknown would send anyone into a nervous wreck. He took a deep breath to calm his nerves, steeling himself as he looked through the cupola. The sheer darkness of the Gate was slightly lessened by the headlamps behind his own vehicle.

"... Unit Kirschblüte, I recommend that you disengage, I will secure this sector." A deep mechanical voice echoed on their radio, raising a few eyebrows.

"What was that?" Johnson voiced, twisting his head around. Owen, having realised what it was, piped up. "Just ghosts, there've been reports of this when the Gate first appeared, details were scant, but they noticeably heard what was Hitler's speech, something from Star Trek and all other kinds of things that were radio-based. Might explain that, this is something that bridges worlds after all."

Johnson shivered. "Freaky stuff."

"Tell me about it; I never thought I'd get first-hand experience about it too." Owen didn't turn his head to answer, too focused on driving the tank. Edward didn't comment; his eyes squinted as he saw light at the end of the tunnel.

"This is Misfit One-Three to Misfit Actual."

"This is Misfit Actual. Send traffic."

"We have eyes on the end of the tunnel; we'll be busting through in." Edwards quickly did the math from the current information in front of him. "Approximate one minute."

"Understood, Misfit One-three. See you on the other side."

The crew steeled themselves, with Johnson getting ready to fire if given the command. What amounted to a minute felt longer to them, with nearly blinding light. They burst through; however, what greeted them was nothing short of a surprise.

All around them, they could see stoned pathways and a massive building akin to a palace. What they could already identify was a large group of people wearing what they assumed was a uniform, indicated by the blue-collar and near matching colours they held and most noticeably their hair and eyes, being a silvery-white like snow.

Edward quickly got on the horn as the Abrams beside them veered off to the right, their main gun aimed at the crowd. "Misfit Actual, this is Misfit One-Three. We have multiple unknowns, direct front. Don't know if hostile, over."

"Say again, Misfit One-Three?" The confusion bleeding through the radio, "Multiple Unknowns, they're not firing on us or looks like they're going to. Hell, they're not even armed."

"Understood, Misfit One-Three. This is Misfit Actual to all units. We are dealing with unknown contacts. Do not fire, I say again. Do not fire. Out"

Edward slumped in his seat, sighing in relief. Some of these unknown contacts didn't look even at an age above fifteen. He dipped his head low, sighing to himself before getting up, hand going for the latch. "I'm about to do something incredibly stupid." He heard several objections from everyone, the loudest being Johnson but he already twisted the latch, lifted the hatch upwards as he rose through the opening. His arms resting on the roof of the Abrams, his fingers drumming against the tanned hull as his eyes observed the crowd in front of them.

If Lena didn't know the true meaning of fear, now was the best time to learn it. She didn't expect to see vehicles she only read in books, much less burst through the darkness of the Gate with more constantly streaming through. It started with one, then one more, then another and right now, four of them were staring directly at Lena with more coming through the Gate like an endless tide.

She was rooted to the spot, staring death directly in the eye as her fellow Alba didn't know what to do. Any wrong movement could potentially turn them into a red paste with minimal effort. She silently gulped, glancing over to Annette, who was in the same boat as her.

A few tense moments passed, neither side offering a reaction as they gauged the others. The lead vehicle, tank, was it? She faintly recalled a memory about learning their terminology of the armoured vehicle, opened its hatch, a body rising through the hole, their arms resting against the top of its hull. The shape was distinctly male, indicated by the bulk of their shoulders.

The stare they gave off was, quite frankly. Frightening, like one would see a wolf stalking its prey. It didn't help with the gas mask draped over their face; their features obscured from everyone. She and the rest of the others quietly watched his actions, their head-turning upwards to take a glance at the sun before looking at them directly in the eye.

"Good afternoon?" their voice rumbled; it was mature and smooth. "God, this would have been so much easier if we were under attack. But uh, yeah. Good Afternoon? Fine day we're having?"

Lena blinked, dumbfounded. She glanced over to Annette, and she could see she was in the same boat as her, same as the others in her vicinity. "Alright, fine. If it makes it easier for you…." She and the others watched with bated breath, their eyes glued onto his hands as they went and clasped behind their gas mask. What was revealed to them was a handsome, rugged face with a scar lining their nose in a diagonal line from their right side to the left just below the eye. Faint stubble marred his lower chin, adding to the ruggedness already present. However, the most defining feature to them was his mop of brown hair and brown eyes that were reminiscent of a Rubis. And he was easily a decade older than them, with how tired his eyes looked.

"There, much easier to put a face on a guy, right?"

Edward inwardly cringed at how awkward this was, 'This would be so much easier if we were just fighting Sadera or something else.' He mused, glancing between all of them while running a hand through his hair. Now that he got a closer look at them, their silvery-white hair and eyes seem to be the only defining feature about them.

The radio buzzed. "Edward, what the fuck are you doing?!" He keyed the mic. "Initiating first contact, I don't think they're Saderans."

Edward could almost audibly hear a facepalm over the loud rumbling of vehicles taking position behind them. As stupid as this was, it couldn't hurt to take the peaceful option if they do decide to throw a rocket at them. If they had any.

He scratched the back of his neck; the atmosphere was killing him. They'd have been staring at each other for the past few five minutes, no one making a move until someone burst through one of the archways. He listened to the hydraulics of several coaxial machine guns twisting around to aim at the new person.

Karlstahl once he heard the news of an unknown force currently sitting in front of Military HQ, immediately came rushing down. It had taken him time, precious time, but he eventually made it. He immediately halted as he stepped through the archway, halting as several machine guns were pointed at him, but he didn't care. Instead, his eyes darted between the crowd, trying to pick Lena and Annette from the rest.

Once he saw Lena and Annette standing side by side, a bit shook up but nonetheless fine. Relief flooded through him, not today. Václav's daughter isn't dying on his watch. Now, to the next order of business. With a deep breath, he put his emotions under control, his face changing into a neutral expression as he finally got a good look at the unknown force.

The tanks at the front of their formation sat quietly, their coaxial machine guns making sweeps over the crowd; thankfully, none of them seemed keen to open fire. Further in the back, armoured vehicles poured out of the Gate; by the time he finished counting a pair of them, another would pour out. It was like an unending tide.

He shivered at the fact that there was a foreign army of unknown origins on their soil, and could potentially be here with ill intent - no, they haven't started attacking yet. Perhaps they were open for negotiations, or at least open a talk.

By then, his fellow Alba, having taken the hint. Parted before him, making an opening as he climbed down the steps. Just off to his left, Lena watched her uncle stop just a few metres in front of a tank, and what she noticed now was the words' M-COR' embezzled on its left cheek.

Karlstahl stood at full attention, waiting as a man deftly climbed out of the tank before hopping down. He inspected the man; his attire was cameoed, green, brown and darker brown were splotched on it, a brown tactical vest over his torso and a holster strapped to his right thigh. Next, he got a look at his face. He was clean-shaven, not even a faint of stubble. Black hair marred his head, and his emerald eyes were piercing.

Karlstahl saluted, his right hand just above his brow, palm facing downwards. The man stopped just a few metres in front of him, before mirroring his own actions. It was crisp, disciplined without a hint of flaws. He lowered his hand, placing it back to his side.

"Whom do I have the honour of speaking to?"

"I am Captain Recker Cole of the United States Marine Corps, First Marine Tank Battalion, of the First Marine Division, commander of Misfit Company," Recker responded without missing a beat. Karlstahl gained a small amount of respect for him, more so than the other undisciplined Alba.

"I am Brigadier General Jérôme Karlstahl of the San Mangnolian Military, a pleasure to meet you, if not under different circumstances."

"Likewise." Recker broke out into a smile.

A/N: And that gentleman, is chapter 1 of my own original story of 86 x Gate, To be perfectly honest with you. This reads like an amateur wrote it. Still, I quite enjoyed it and this gives me some major incentives of reading the novel and watching the anime at the same time. I hope you enjoyed it,

This is AWACS Freeshipping

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